India has stepped up financial assistance to ports for upgrading cruise terminal facilities, shipping minister Pon Radhakrishnan has told Parliament.
The tourism ministry disburses cash grants to upgrading cruise related infrastructure that includes facilitating smooth operation of cruise liners and upgrading cruise passenger terminals.
The minister did not reveal the amount of assistance, but informed that lighthouses would be promoted as “unique” tourism destinations. Related projects in Chennai and Mahabalipuram in the southern states of Tamil Nadu have been completed. Development of coastal tourism infrastructure has also been identified to provide a fillip to cruise shipping.
To boost cruise related tourism foreign flag vessels carrying passengers are exempt from obtaining a license from the Director General of Shipping for a period of 10 years up until 2019.
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Cruise ship calls at Mumbai and Cochin ports have risen to 47 and 40 respectively during the year 2014-15 (ending 31 March 2015). Mumbai received 37 ships in the previous year while Cochin received 34 vessels.
Leading Asian cruise operator Star Cruises, which offers a series of Flycruise holidays from India is hoping for what Naresh Rawal, Vice-President of Sales, Star Cruises, referred to as “more consideration” from authorities in dealing with issues arising from berthing.
“For example, offering incentives such as port tariff reductions to having a dedicated berth specifically for cruise ships,” Rawal elaborated to IHS Maritime.
Strategically located ports with a well-planned tourism network, in terms of extensive air, sea and land connectivity are vital for growing cruise tourism in India, he added.
“We will continue to work closely with relevant local authorities to further grow and promote India as a leading cruise tourism destination,” Rawal assured.